Last Updated on July 25, 2023 by Laura
Set in New Mexico’s high desert next to the Sandia Mountains, Albuquerque is known for its stunning landscapes. If that’s not enough to lure you in, the city’s unique Old Town architecture and museums will entice. Plus, as a cultural hub of the American Southwest, Albuquerque is also a short drive to some of the region’s most interesting cities and sites. Here are the best road trips from Albuquerque.
Fabulous Road Trips from Albuquerque
64 miles / 1 hr.
Want to make a quick escape to Santa Fe, one of the Southwest’s most atmospheric cities? You’ll get there in an hour from Albuquerque via I-25 N. Or you can take the longer, more scenic Turquoise Trail, which officially kicks off on the historic Route 66, where you’ll find a musical road that plays the song America the Beautiful as you pass over the rumble strips going 45 miles per hour. After that, take NM 14, which winds through beautiful landscapes and charming little towns. In Santa Fe, the city’s downtown plaza is utterly enchanting, with historical buildings that house shops, restaurants, and over 250 art galleries. The city’s rich Native American history is woven throughout the city. The best way to spend a weekend in Santa Fe is on foot, meandering through the remarkable Spanish Pueblo-style architecture that the city is known for. >> Recommended hotels in Santa Fe
Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Reserve
95 miles / 1 hr. 30 mins.
Just an hour and a half south of Albuquerque along I-25 S, you’ll find Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Reserve, a 57,331-acre bird lover’s paradise. Tucked between the Chupadera Mountains to the west and the San Pascual Mountains to the east, the reserve is a great place to get out in nature. Expect to see cranes, geese, ducks, and other migrating waterfowl throughout the year. But the main draw is the annual migration of Sandhill Cranes in the fall.
Bandelier National Monument
103 miles / 1 hr. 45 mins.
Head northeast from Albuquerque along I-25 N to get to Bandelier National Monument. This is New Mexico’s rocky canyon and mesa country. Bandelier National Monument preserves historic Ancestral Pueblo settlements—dating back 11,000 years—and scenic lowlands around the Rio Grande River. The Upper Falls on Frijoles Creek is a popular hike, no matter the season. And if you camp in the park, you’ll get a spectacular glimpse of the Milky Way in the night sky.
133 miles / 2 hrs. 30 mins.
Two-and-a-half-hours north of Albuquerque via I-25 N and NM-68 N is Taos. Tucked in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is a year-round destination, with skiing in the winter, and hiking, fishing, and biking in the summer. In town, be sure to visit Taos Pueblo, a multistory adobe complex inhabited by Native Americans for centuries. Taos is also an artsy destination: The city’s many galleries, shops, museums, and festivals showcase regional artwork. >> Recommended hotels in Taos
White Sands National Park
225 miles / 3 hrs. 30 mins.
A bit farther afield, White Sands National Park is a three-and-a-half-hour drive south of Albuquerque along via I-25 S and US-380 E. But it’s absolutely worth the trek. White Sands National Park is one of nature’s greatest wonders. Massive wave-like dunes of gypsum sand rise from the heart of the Tularosa Basin. Hike the extensive trails, pack a picnic, and try your hand at sand-sledding.